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YFCU attend the 77th Annual Oxford Farming Conference

The Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) is one of the leading international conferences for farming and agribusiness. It takes place in January every year located in the historic and inspiring surroundings of Oxford University. The Irish Farmers Journal provided sponsorship supporting three members of Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) to represent the association at the conference; Philip Donaldson Chair of YFCU Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee (AERA), Mitchell Park AERA Committee member, and Andrew Reid, Crumlin YFC member and selected scholar.

The theme for the 2023 conference was ‘Farming a New Future’. aiming to “explore systemic solutions to the cumulative biodiversity, climate, food, and energy crises that collectively we are facing.” Emily Norton, OFC 2023 Chair

The Conference boasted an impressive and relevant line-up of topics with many engaging speakers across three sessions, each with their own sub-theme. The first session ‘The Big Picture’ offered presentations on; The Future of Sustainable Trade; Getting the Rules Right; UK Policy; The Well-being of Future Generations Act, and an address by the OFC Honorary President, HRH Princess Royal.

Session two entitled ‘Business and Innovation’ included; The Business Case for Nature-Based Solutions; Farming Innovations; Scaling Local Food Economies; and Farmers Leading the Battle for Soil and Soul.

‘Taking Responsibility’ was the closing session of the conference on day three, offering delegates the opportunity to attend sessions on Inspiring Farmer; Is Consensus on Land in Britain Possible?; Disrupting Global Food Policies; and Succeeding After Advertising.

Andrew Reid, selected scholar from YFCU and member of Crumlin YFC shares his experience of the 2023 Oxford conference.

All speakers were incredibly passionate about their topic and did a fantastic job of representing the UK farming industry in a positive light, despite the many current challenges it faces. The talks were all rounded off with a very moving speech by paralympic medalist, Samantha Kinghorn, MBE on ‘Succeeding after adversity’.”

“I also had the opportunity to attend the Annual Oxford Union Debate; the 2023 title being ‘This house believes that humans will not be needed on farms in a generation’. This was a captivating debate, interesting points, and arguments were raised by both sides, but ultimately, the house voted against the statement.

At the end of the conference, the scholars were grouped and tasked with presenting our representation of ‘Farming a New Future’ to a judging panel and fellow scholars. This was a welcome platform to express my own views and opinions, as well as understand the position and perspectives of other scholars; after all, we are the future of farming. I am proud to say I was part of the winning group!

On reflection of the conference as a whole, my take-home message would be, we, as YFCU members, are the future and we have the power to drive change so be optimistic, be proactive, and be positive!”.’

YFCU would like to thank the Irish Farmers Journal for sponsoring our members to attend the conference. This opportunity has provided access to key information and an invaluable networking platform, offering important insight to what the future of farming may look like. This extends to educating not only those in attendance but promoting further discussion, debate, and learning at local level in YFCU clubs across Northern Ireland.





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